Q&A - Riding Bicycles Abreast

CyclistI recently ran into a situation where an officer pulled me over for riding two abreast while I was stopped at a red light in a left turn lane waiting to turn onto a bike lane. Myself and the two other individuals on bicycles were riding single file. As we approached the intersection we indicated a left turn and moved into the left turn lane when it was clear/safe to do so. As we came to a stop to wait for the red light the three of us compressed and two of us could be considered side by side as we waited for the light. The rear video on my bicycle shows an officer on a motorcycle comes into view while we are stopped (i.e., there were no cars behind us in the turn lane, nor did the officer see that we were riding single file as we approached the stop light).

Is it illegal to temporarily stop beside another cyclist while waiting for a red light before preceding to ride single file through the intersection to the bike lane?

I tried reviewing the BC traffic act to get an answer, but this specific situation is not covered. Riders can be temporarily side by side as they pass one another which could apply to the situation of being stopped at a red or stopping two abreast may not constitute riding two abreast. Alternatively, being stopped beside someone on a bike may or may not constitute riding two abreast depending on the interpretation of the courts in a given situation.



Yes, there is a prohibition for riding abreast (aka: side by side) when the bicycles are using the roadway:

Rights and duties of operator of cycle

183 (2) A person operating a cycle

(d) must not ride abreast of another person operating a cycle on the roadway,

"roadway" means the portion of the highway that is improved, designed or ordinarily used for vehicular traffic, but does not include the shoulder, and if a highway includes 2 or more separate roadways, the term "roadway" refers to any one roadway separately and not to all of them collectively;

"vehicle" means a device in, on or by which a person or thing is or may be transported or drawn on a highway, but does not include a device designed to be moved by human power, a device used exclusively on stationary rails or tracks, mobile equipment or a motor assisted cycle;

You are correct, making a left turn does require you to use the leftmost lane as you would if you were driving a motor vehicle.

I suppose, strictly speaking, the violation did take place when the one cyclist pulled up beside the other. Was the cyclist that pulled up the one that received the ticket?

If you all rode away single file when the light turned green it seems that perhaps this might have been a case where the officer could have chosen to exercise discretion and not ticket. The group together might actually be safer as it is less likely that overtaking motor vehicle drivers will fail to wait behind and try to bulldoze by.

Amendments to the cycling rules in the Motor Vehicle Act have been under consideration for some time now, but I have not been able to find out about any progress. It will be interesting to see what the changes will be.

Poorly written rules

And a pretty cheesy ticket in my opinion.

Motorcycles “pair up” at turns and stops.  I would have believed the same, safe principle applies to bicycles, especially on left turns.   We depart slightly staggered and fall into our staggered positions once motion is complete (turn/light) that is the professional taught so why would a copper not see the safety in that maneuver?  

Also, the definition of operating a bicycle abreast and the “roadway” are not clear and highly ambiguous.  I interpret it to imply “abreast” during the movement while traveling not while setting up to make a turn.  

I would support the cyclists to double up at turns (especially left & controlled) it is the safest and most visible position to execute the move and once complete, they return to their single file while traveling.  

I also think this officer did a poor job at exercising his discretion and doing some homework on the issue before rushing to give the guy a ticket.  I see so many without helmets or visible wear, lights, those are the ones being negligent and defiant of the rules/law. 

Same Assumption

I made the same assumption that you did. The person involved corrected me, no ticket was written.

Riding abreast

Firstly what an antiquated term no doubt going back to when warriors wore breast plates and advanced on the enemy “abreast”. Evidence of just how outdated our MVA is.

Sadly this violation penalizes the riders for taking the safest position on the roadway or would it be argued that the riders did not position themselves “as far right as practicable”?

Furthermore I would ask if they are “riding abreast” when they are stationary?

The spirit of this regulation is to allow overtaking vehicles to pass single file riders safely. I believe the ticket should only have been issued if the riders did not resume their single file formation after turning.


I did not know that abreast was illegal. I grew up in the Netherlands, where 2 abreast is allowed.

I must say I very much dislike this rule. I have been cycling with my kids since they were 4 yo, on Vancouver public roads, and always shield them by riding left of them.

I would not take a young kid biking in a file.


Talking about cyclist abreast: yesterday morning when I was heading to work a couple was riding side by side in front of my car on 15th St towards 10 ave, Bby. I couldn't pass due to traffic so I had a brief argument with them: why not riding in a single file (one behind another),at least in such hectic areas at peak hours ? Their answer was incredible: because 15th St is a ....bike lane !

That's it: some guys are not just indolents when they don't care about others, they are also against THE LAW !

Talking about having a child as a cyclist on the roadway: no, I never did and wouldn't do that, not even in the Netherlands or elsewhere.Besides that a kid is legal and must always cycle on the boardwalk and in its absence the road shoulder should be more than perfect while having the parent/ adult riding in parallel to shield him/her.

Just my 2 cents .....Safe cycling everyone and beware of morons !

Google Ads